Polio-Like Disease AFM Is Affecting Kids Around the Country

Alicia Farmer
October 11, 2018

The CDC must review case information to confirm the cases under observation in Pittsburgh, a process which could take a few weeks, Scarpino said.

Two cases are in King County, one in each Pierce, Lewis and Snohomish counties. This follows an unusual rise this year in cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) in several states.

"These are all children under five", said Chas DeBolt, a senior epidemiologist for vaccine-preventable disease at the Department of Health. "We're working closely with medical providers and public health agencies".

AFM is a rare but serious condition that has been compared with polio because it, too, can lead to paralysis and, in some cases, death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Less than one in a million people in the United States get AFM each year", the CDC says. "So, we've seen that there's an association between viruses, specifically enterovirus, in the past".

"But just because you catch the virus from somebody that developed AFM, doesn't mean that you will also develop AFM", Dr. Meade explained.

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We've been reporting about the polio-like illness affecting two children here in Chicago, nine in northern IL and others across the country, but how concerned should parents be about the spread to their children?

A 2-year-old girl from Batavia is facing a long, hard recovery after contracting a rare polio-like disease that has been reported in children across the United States. Back in 2016, Washington state had 10 cases of AFM.

The CDC says the condition is not new but there's been an increase in cases starting in 2014.

In 2017, three cases and five so far in 2018.

The health department says there are no specific recommendations for avoiding AFM, but washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, and staying up-to-date on immunizations is recommended.

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